Sunday, 12 February 2012

Salaam-aaleekum, our language lessons are going well. I am learning Mandinka and have been trying to practise it a lot with the locals, with varying degrees of success. There are a variety of languages spoken in The Gambia so sometimes the unfortunate person I attempt to practise on just laughs and answers back in Wolof or just smiles! The last few days have been very exciting. I went shopping in Serre-kunde market, which is fantastic. Think Argyle Street on Christmas Eve and treble, you’ll still be nowhere near how busy it is. So many twists and
turns, I had no idea where I was let alone how I would get out. There were cars and trucks squeezing down narrow streets with shacks housing a multitude of stalls on either side. Women and children wandering up and down selling their wares from baskets on their heads. The market itself was a rabbit warren of a place. Lots of stalls selling shoes and sandals. Others sell fish, which seems to be the thing to buy round here. Flies everywhere which was really not nice and not sure I could bring myself to buy fish form there. I loved the vegetable stalls, you could not move for them. Selling fresh tomatoes, green tomatoes, aubergines, salad onions, lettuce, peppers, chillies, what more could you want! I can’t wait to go back.

Today was great fun. We visited a village on the west coast called Ndembam. It only had electricity installed 2 weeks ago. They all said it was a big improvement. However, it has still to be put into the homes and light the school. The electricity has meant street lighting and they are able to use computers in the school. The children we fascinated by us. They followed us around and were very friendly and the older ones chatted away to us telling all about their community. The smaller ones were content just to hold your hand, but would not say anything except their names when I practised Mandinka….and before you say anything it was perfect Mandinka as the adults were conversing with us in it! They live a very simple life and are very content. We could learn a lot from them. The community were very welcoming and treated us to traditional music and dancing. They fed us some delicious Gambian food, Benachi was the tastiest, rice with fish and cabbage. This was served in the traditional shared food bowl where you use your right hand to eat from. A new experience but I chickened out and opted to use a spoon instead. Not quite ready to use my hands just yet!

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